Saturday, December 27, 2008

2009 Institute for Athletes in Retirement and Transition Conference

"Life after Sport: Athletes in Transition," May 29-31 in San Diego.
The main page for the conference is here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

British Philosophy of Sport Conference

The 2009 BPSA Conference will be held from 26 – 28 March in the historic Dudhope Castle in Dundee, Scotland The castle forms part of the campus of the University of Abertay Dundee, and is ideally situated for visitor attractions such as golf at St Andrews, Carnoustie or Rosemount; whisky tasting tours; and visiting the Cairngorms National Park.

Abstracts are welcome from within any area of philosophy of sport including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, and from any relevant theoretical approach, including analytic, continental philosophy or critical theory. Submissions in related areas such as philosophy of the body; philosophy of health, philosophy of coaching; philosophy of Physical Education are also welcomed. Newcomers to the association may wish to consult the web site to see full details of previous conferences and books of abstracts:

Abstracts should be 350-500 words long (including references). The deadline for submission is 12 December 2008. Abstracts must be submitted electronically to BPSA Vice-Chair Dr Andrew Edgar Preferred format is MS Word. Contributors will be notified about the acceptance or rejection of their abstracts no later than 26 January 2009. Abstracts will be published in a booklet distributed at the conference and will appear before then on the BPSA website. Authors whose work is accepted for the conference are invited to submit their papers for review to the Association’s Journal, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, edited by Dr McNamee

Further information about the conference programme, location, travel arrangements, etc. will be posted on the BPSA website as it becomes available. The local organisers will be Professor Steve Olivier and Ms Claire Morton, at; telephone 0044 (0)1382 308727.

And Penthesilea Wept

I have always loved mischief-makers.

In their paper “The genetic design of a new Amazon” Claudio Tamburrini and Torbjorn Tannsjo (or perhaps Pan and Loki?) claim that the fact that men and women are prevented from competing against each other means that women are sexually discriminated against in sporting arenas. Ergo, as such discrimination is unacceptable, women should be allowed to undergo genetic modification (when such procedures are safe) to allow them to compete with men, because “In sports it is crucial that the best person wins”. While I am very interested in what the readers of this blog think on the matter, I’m going to nail my colours to the mast right away.

Tamburrini and Tannsjo claim that (A) “If a female athlete can perform better than a male athlete, this female athlete should be allowed to compete with, and beat, the male athlete.” And (B) “If she cannot beat a certain male athlete, so be it. If the competition was fair, she should be able to face the fact that he was more talented. It is really as simple as that.” I agree fully with (A); of course, whether women would want to compete with males, or should be made to, is another question.

(B), though, hints at a problem that Tamburinni and Tannsjo seem to obfuscate. If female athletes are genetically enhanced, any competition against unmodified male athletes simply isn’t fair anymore. In what sense is a victory by an enhanced female athlete over an unmodified male athlete a victory for equality? Presumably, Tamburrini and Tannsjo are either going to allow male athletes to modify themselves in a similar way (so they too can try to be the “best person”), or they are not. If they do, the modifications of the two sexes would seem to “cancel each other out” in a kind of biotechnological arms race (har har), as each athlete attempts to be that best person. And if they don’t, that would seem to be… err… sexual discrimination. (In the background I can hear Derek Zoolander screaming: “Merman pop! I’m a mer-MAN!)

I do hope, though, that in my lifetime genetic enhancements eventually allow one to drastically and safely alter one’s body shape. I have always thought that forcefully preventing me from running in the Grand National was speciesism at its most extreme. How can they separate me from those magnificent thoroughbreds, while farmers and locust swarms compete for the lands produce? While apartment dwellers and foxes see who can squeeze into each other’s living spaces, and humans, dogs and squirrels run together unfettered in Central Park? I don’t enjoy the fact that the market assigns very little value to my present long-distance running and hedge-jumping times, and I would be quite prepared to risk any of the possible side-effects of equine semi-transformation. My hope is that after a few good races, I am put out to stud in a vineyard.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

European Association for the Philosophy of Sport

This notice is to bring to your attention the new European Association for the Philosophy of Sport website... well it is actually a inter-collaborational Wiki... that can be found on:

The constitution, members of the executive committee, and associated bodies can all be found on there along with discussion posts and details of forthcoming conferences, etc.

Please take a look and add yourself as a member.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sport and Poverty

Sport provides a uniquely effective opportunity to help alleviate poverty in creative ways. Right to Play is active in the following ways:

* teaching HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness to children most at risk
* fostering rehabilitation and teaching life skills to children affected by war
* opening up educational and leadership opportunities to girls
* bringing joy, hope, laughter and so much more to children in need

Right To Play trains community members and individuals within local partner organizations to be coaches and run our programs. This creates the foundation in a community for leadership and helps to rebuild community infrastructure, networks and support systems.

Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play has projects in more than 20 countries in the Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do professional cyclists need a union?

There is a brief interview with Tyler Hamilton here.
One of the issues that arises near the end of the interview is whether or not cycling needs a union, similar to other professional sports. It seems to me that this would be a good idea, with some qualifications. I think it would be good so that the rights of cyclists are respected, and so power is more evenly distributed in this sport. However, given cycling's high profile links to doping scandals, I would want the union to strongly support strict standards on the model of Team Columbia and Garmin-Chipotle, not just in word, but in practice as well. The advantage of a union being in play is that this sort of thing could be done while trying to balance the rights and interests of individual cyclists as much as possible, and hopefully encouraging a grassroots level response to doping rather than the top-down model of organizations like WADA.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Of Athletes and Clothes Horses

As if liberally pasting the sponsor’s name all over an athlete wasn’t enough, we now have kits displaying colourful historical images as well. First our athletes were identified by their kit; then by playing in it they were contributing to kit sales (while actively promoting a brand name). Now, one can only assume that Stade Francias have decided to give spectators a history lesson, by playing in a rugby jersey with multicoloured images of Blanche de Castille (wife of Louis VIII and mother to Louis IX) emblazoned on it. I am loath to write this off as a fashion faux pas – French eccentricity notwithstanding. Could someone please tell me what is going on here, and what I should prepare myself for next?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Race and American Football

I just came across this interesting story on It is another example of how issues in society and sport mirror one another. For example, the issue of racial profiling is discussed in this article in the context of the National Football League and NCAA Football.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is there such a thing as too much dominance?

In a pre Olympic qualifying tournament --Slovakia won the women's ice hockey match by a score of 82-0 over Bulgaria. They averaged one goal every 44 seconds. According to media reports, there are only 37 women hockey players in Bulgaria, and the goalie was 16 years old.

This is a ridiculously high score and raises questions surrounding fair play and whether the "mercy rule" should be incorporated in pre Olympic qualifying. As a result of such a high score, the validity and place of women's hockey is questioned and criticized.

History informs us that the Canadian men's team used to dominate early 1900 ice hockey play at the Olympics; however, in 2002, Canada won the gold for the first time in 50 years. Therefore, many argue that it took time but the rest of the world did eventually catch up to the US and CAN in ice hockey and today World and Olympic tournaments are quite competitive.

Regardless of one's sex, should there be a "mercy rule" incorporated in such a sport where many teams do not have the population, nor the economic status to play with the "big boys and girls" ?

Friday, August 29, 2008

LPGA and the English language

There is a very interesting and disturbing post over at Public Reason, dealing with a new English language requirement for LPGA players.

The demand that players speak English is wrong for a variety of reasons, I think, but it also uncovers something interesting for philosophers of sport. How important is it that a sport be entertaining? And why should the external goods of sponsorship and money determine who can participate in elite sport, regardless of their level of talent?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Silence in the Stands, or, Anyone for a Record?

The Olympic swimming events aren’t even over, and I can’t wait for the stats. It seems everyone and his frog (sorry :-) is breaking a record these days. I wrote a while back about Speedo’s LZR swimming suit…you know, the one which is more of a performance enhancer than most drugs? The men’s 4 X 100m freestyle relay was a great illustration of the phenomenal achievements in swimsuit design typified by the LZR. From the online media:

“The Americans shattered the world record set by their ''B'' team the previous evening in the preliminaries, touching with a time of 3 minutes, 8.24 seconds - nearly 4 full seconds below the 15-hour-old mark. Bernard was the world record holder in the 100, but he surrendered that mark as well. Australia's Eamon Sullivan broke the individual record by swimming the leadoff leg in 47.24 - ahead of Bernard's mark of 47.50. Lezak swam his 100 in a staggering 46.06, the fastest relay leg in history, though it doesn't count as an official record.”

Jason Lezak’s swim was awesome, regardless of what he was wearing. But why are these records tumbling so easily? If it isn’t drugs, it can really only be technology. I refuse to believe that refinements in training regimes and swimming techniques are responsible for such drastic reductions in record times. How much then do these records really mean? Just where are the IOC/WADA watchdogs, and why aren’t they barking?

Friday, August 8, 2008

International Association for the Philosophy of Sport Conference

See this link for information about the conference, including the program. Several contributors to this blog are presenting papers. It looks to be an outstanding conference, so if you're in Japan, check it out.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Changing the minds of athletes who cheat

The New Scientist this week (30 July 2008) contains an article with the sub-title, ‘Finding out why some competitors take drugs while others stay clean may be the key to deterring doping’.

As the figures suggest that testing does not deter athletes from cheating, Andrea Petroczi’s (Kingston University) recommendation is that the way to stop doping is to focus upon the psychological reasons why athletes take illegal supplements. This, she argues, is due to an athlete’s belief that s/he is unable to compete without taking these supplements: it is not the fact that athletes are attracted to such supplements because they are illegal, nor do they generally consider consequences on their health, but rather because of their drive to win and their belief that such supplements will aid them in this quest. Petroczi suggests that coaches should therefore work on psychological techniques to change this attitude from one which promotes winning at any cost, to one that encourages a 'mastery' of their chosen sport.

When the lure of big-time success in sport is driven by a competitive attitude towards others, it isn’t surprising that some athletes will do whatever they believe it takes (from training on Christmas Day to taking the latest flashy-marketed nutritional supplement to illegal methods). Those in favour of this psychological intervention, such as Smoll and Smith, from the University of Washington, maintain that performance would not necessarily be adversely affected with a change in attitude, although they do concede that it is difficult to gather the evidence to support this due to the reluctance of elite level coaches to change their methods. Yet even if were able to justify such psychological intervention from an ethical standpoint, I doubt that it would not have an effect on elite-level sport; arguably sport as we know it today is only that because of the mindset athletes’ have. If we take away that attitude then we may well be changing the nature of sport.

The New Scientist article touches upon many of the perennial questions surrounding the issue of doping in sport (which I haven’t covered in this contribution), but it also raises a new one, in what effect would a change in athletes’ attitude have on the nature of elite sport? I'm not suggesting that even if it were possible to change the attitude of every athlete in the world that it would have an adverse effect on top-level sport, but merely disagreeing with the presumption that performances, and therefore elite sport, wouldn’t be affected.

If Petroczi and others are correct in their view that doping can only be eradicated through a change of attitude, then we might need to accept that elite level sport would no longer be as we currently know it. It is either that, or change our attitude towards doping, which might be easier… but then that’s another debate to be had.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On a Lived Athletic Philosophy

In The Inward Morning, Henry Bugbee describes an experiential philosophy that is not “set up like the solution of a puzzle, worked out with all the pieces lying there before the eye. It will be more like the clarification of what we know in our bones” (p. 35). In many ways, intercollegiate athletic departments and individual coaches follow this model when developing mission statements, ethical guidelines, and programs on sportsmanship. For these individuals, an athletic department philosophy is not an analytic argument but rather a belief system determined through myriad conversations and decisions over many years.

One aspect of this formation process involves a tension between openness and contraction. On occasion, the process of philosophical thought requires an attention to one’s surroundings – in this case to people, programs, and broader athletic issues. At other times the process necessitates moments of contraction – acknowledging that a given athletic philosophy may not necessarily meet the needs of other institutions or teams.

A second aspect of the development process involves experience. A rich understanding of athletics help individuals shape an institutional athletic department philosophy. Again, Bugbee writes that “Experience is our undergoing, our involvement in the world, our lending or withholding of ourselves, keyed to our responsiveness, our sensibility, our alertness or our deadness” (p. 41).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Olympic Dreams and Fears (of a Philosophical Nature)

In just a few short weeks, the Beijing Olympics will begin. A fellow contributor to the blog suggested that we all address the following questions, which are intentionally wide in scope to allow for a wide variety of answers, from the personal to the political:

1. What is one good thing that you want to see happen at the Olympics?

2. What is one bad thing that you fear might happen, and what, if anything, can be done about it in advance?

Contributors as well as readers are invited to post their answers in the comments to this post.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Of downhill football and through-balls through the palm-trees

I recently returned from a two-week holiday in Madagascar, where I watched a soccer match between an under-18 development side from Cape Town in South Africa and an invitation team drawn from the islands surrounding Nosy Be in the North of Madagascar. The pitch was equal parts clay, soil and grass, and sloped noticeably downward towards one set of goalposts. In the middle of the pitch were two palms which grew outwards and away from each other, which made it possible to play the ball between them, or off of them and back to oneself or a teammate. We were staying at a guest lodge on one of the islands, and lunch was delayed while our cook ran at striker for a half, trying his best to score a goal for the Island XI. The game was played in a fantastic spirit, with smiles all round and great sportsmanship displayed by both sides. The South Africans won 3-2 in the last minute via a spectacular overhead kick, but it was clear that the result was unimportant. Afterwards, each Malagasy player split a coconut he had brought and handed half to his opposite number – it was only when the islanders began distributing generous measures of rum to the players that the South African coach, smiling broadly, intervened. For me, a lucky spectator, the match showcased the power of sport to draw people from the most diverse communities onto common ground, for no other reason than to compete and have fun doing so. The supporters too were amazing, shouting for and praising the skills of the opposition as well as their own players. It made a nice change from the vitriolic taunts of the crowd at most major football matches. In the end, there weren’t millions riding on the result, the players weren’t going to negotiate new multi-million dollar contracts after the game, and the coach’s jobs were safe. Simply, those involved celebrated a soccer match in a joyous spirit which is so noticeably absent in sport today. Everyone was smiling, whether they won or lost. How many times have you seen that lately?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dealing with Doping

Given some of the past discussion on this blog about performance-enhancement, this story might be of interest. Team Garmin-Chipotle exemplifies what some philosophers of sport have argued is the best way to deal with doping. It is athlete-driven, rather than the top down approach that organizations such as WADA use.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Publication Announcement: Sports, Virtues and Vices

Mike McNamee, a contributor to this blog, has a new book out with Routledge entitled "Sports, Virtues and Vices: Morality Plays". It looks to be very interesting. The publisher's website for the book can be found here.
The book contains a wealth of contemporary sporting examples, and explores key ethical issues such as:

-How the pursuit of sporting excellence can lead to harm
-Doping, greed and shame
-Biomedical technology as a challenge to the virtue of elite athletes
-Defining a ‘virtue ethical account’ in sport
-A family of vices and virtues in sport

Congratulations to Mike on the book!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Two Links of Interest

First, a discussion of defining sport by Emily Ryall.

Second, an episode of Philoso?hy Talk dealing with issues in sports ethics with current NCAA president Myles Brand, who also happens to be a philosopher.

(Hat Tip: Dave Webster at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Publication Announcement- Football and Philosophy

Football and Philosophy: Going Deep, has just been published by the University Press of Kentucky and is now available. The book's contents should appeal to those interested in philosophy of sport, and include contributions from contributors to this blog. Here's the table of contents, for those who are interested:

Foreword, Joe Posnanski
First Quarter: Football's Lessons for the Game of Life
1. Vince Lombardi and the Philosophy of Winning, Raymond A. Belliotti
2. On Fumbling the Ball, Jeffrey P. Fry
3. Football and Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship, Daniel B. Gallagher
4. Inside the Helmet: What Do Football Players Know?, R. Douglas Geivett
Second Quarter: Playing Well Between the Lines
5. The Beauty of Football, Scott F. Parker
6. Virtue and Violence: Can a Good Football Player be a Good Person?, Scott A. Davison
7. What's So Bad about Performance-Enhancing Drugs?, Sharon Ryan
8. The True Nature of Cheating, Marshall Swain and Myles Brand
9. "They Don't Pay Nobody to Be Humble!": Football's Ego Problem, M. Andrew Holowchak
Third Quarter: Philosophical Armchair Quarterbacking
10. Crowning a True Champion: The Case for a College Football Playoff, Michael W. Austin
11. Heroes of the Coliseum, Heather L. Reid
12. A True MVP, Stephen Kershnar
13. Upon Further Review: Instant Replay is an All-or-Nothing Affair, Joshua A. Smith
14. Does the Salary Cap Make the NFL a Fairer League?, Daniel Collins-Cavanaugh
Fourth Quarter: Metaphysical Mojo
15. Is the Gridiron Holy Ground?, Mark Hamilton
16. Touchdowns, Time, and Truth, Joseph Keim Campbell
17. Feel the Big Mo', Ben Letson

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boycotting the Olympic Games

I've been thinking a little bit recently about the ethics of boycotting the Olympics. A Google search reveals some interesting calls for boycotting the upcoming Games in China due to human rights violations in China, the situation with Tibet, and China's failure to use its influence in the Sudan to deal with the genocide in Darfur. There are calls for the U.S.A. to boycott the Games, for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies, for the European Union to boycott the Games, and reports of celebrities engaging in individual boycotts.

There are several interesting questions specific to this situation, and to the general relationship between politics, ethics, and the Olympic Games. What sort of philosophical justifications have been or can be given for and against boycotting the Games? Are there principled reasons for boycotting? Must a boycott have a good chance at being effective in producing positive political change to be justified? What about considerations of fairness to the athletes who will miss out on the Games if a boycott precludes their participation?

I would be interested to see what readers of this blog have to say about these issues.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

I've only seen the trailer below, and read a bit about this film, but I think it would be of interest to readers of this blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More on Early Recruiting in the United States

Earlier this month, I briefly discussed some problems with the recruiting of young athletes by the University of Kentucky's basketball coach. Another article in the Lexington Herald-Leader continues the discussion of this issue. In the article, it is reported that Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie defended the practice of recruiting young players as something that is necessitated by the competitive nature of recruiting. Kentucky and the University of Indiana have both offered scholarships to Jeremiah Davis, who just finished his freshman year of high school. Wisely, his high school coach and his father agree that Davis simply needs to be a kid for a while.

Admittedly, Gillispie is not offering a philosophical defense of the practice. From the perspective of a coach who wants the best players he can get, Gillispie apparently feels that he should go after young players in his recruiting. However, the mere competitive nature of anything is not enough in and of itself to justify some practice. For example, consider the practices that could be "justified" by this same type of argument: doping, cheating, lying about age in the Little League World Series, and so on. Those who accept this trend in recruiting as something needed because of the competitive nature of recruiting and sport in general fail to consider the real threats to the welfare of children posed by this practice. Kids do need to be kids, while they can. Why rush them into the pressures and challenges of adulthood before they are ready, and before it is necessary? The competitive nature of elite sport is not a sufficient justification.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What would a "good" Olympic Games look like in 2012?

For some interesting answers to this question, see the conclusions of the 2006 Olympic symposium including the British Philosophy of Sport Association and UK Sport here.
The last set of comments by Jim Parry are particularly interesting for those interested in Olympism and moral philosophy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Contributor Introduction- Char Weaving

I am a proud maritimer who teaches at St. Francis Xavier University in a Human Kinetics Dept. on the east coast of Canada. My Ph.D. research focused on the sexual objectification of female athletes and I continue to explore sexuality and sport in the philosophical context.

While driving home yesterday, I was thrilled to hear the softball news story from Portland Oregon. Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University hit her first ever home run and started to take her "victory lap". However, she collapsed quickly due to a knee injury but managed to make it to first base. The rules of softball indicate that she would be called out if her teammates attempted to help her. Consequently, two players from the opposing team, Central Washington University, decided to help Sarah out and carried her around the bases in true fair play spirit. Tucholsky's team ended up winning the game and advanced in the playoffs knocking off Central Washington.

All in all, it is a great story that should be celebrated. However, I was a bit put off while listening to the news story in that the radio journalist asked the players if they ever could imagine such an occurrence taking place in men's sport... right--fair play is reserved for women only :)

Sport and Children's Rights

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie has offered a scholarship to a California basketball player named Michael Avery. The surprising element of this is that Avery is an 8th grader, and has committed to play for UK beginning with the 2012-2013 season. Several uncertainties are in play here, as mentioned in the article: Avery, a 6'4" guard, has perhaps peaked athletically; he may suffer a serious injury; and who knows where Gillispie might be coaching in 2012?

Many ethical issues are raised by this turn of events, but I'd like to focus on one contained in several articles within a recent section of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport devoted to children and philosophy of sport, namely, the right of children to an open future. Joel Feinberg describes this right as consisting of a child being entitled to having as many options open to her as possible upon becoming an adult, so that she will be able to exercise autonomy maximally as a competent adult. It is not clear to me that Avery's right to an open future is undermined by his commitment to Kentucky, given that he can opt out of the commitment in the future. However, I would argue that it is safe to say that such a development is troubling. Should 8th graders be making such commitments, and moreover should college coaches be seeking them? While this might not, strictly speaking, unduly limit Avery's present and future autonomy, it does seem to tighten the openness of his future in significant ways. The pressure to excel in basketball might cause him to forego other options that should still be live options at his age: other sports, music, art, scholastics, and free time to just be a kid, to name a few. Even if these factors do not obtain in this specific case, they could and likely would in other cases if this practice becomes more widespread. Is this a cause for concern, or am I merely making much ado about nothing?

If anyone has thoughts on this, please post them in the comments link below.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Very Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Sport (Part 2)

Part II: Ethical, Social, and Political Issues


Not surprisingly, ethical issues have drawn the most scholarly debate within the field. Aside from the general debate about the role of movement, sport, and play in “the good life,” the field provides a variety of issues that can be examined in a variety of ways. For example, the morality of doping may be approached from the perspective of traditional virtue ethics by developing a conception of a good person within sport (sometimes called sportsmanship or sportspersonship), then asking whether this person would use dope. From the perspective of Kantian-style duty ethics, one may point out that doping violates a promise made to a competitor. And from a consequentialist utilitarian perspective, one may argue that doping has negative health consequences. In recent years, Alisdair MacIntyre’s social practice theory (After Virtue, 1981) has been applied frequently to sport. On this view, sports are seen as group activities in which practitioners seek certain internal goods and uphold particular standards of virtue. From this perspective the question about doping is whether it interferes with the pursuit of those internal goods or group-defined virtues.

Of course the most basic ethical question in sport is cheating: is it ever morally permissible to intentionally break a rule? The most controversial example is fouling to stop the clock in basketball. A strict perspective on this practice is Warren Fraleigh’s “logical incompatibility thesis,” which says you can’t break a rule and play the game at the same time. Insofar as games just are sets of rules, violating rules amounts to not playing the game. A softer approach views breaking rules as unethical when it interferes with the game’s purpose of testing a prescribed set of skills. A third perspective views games as cultures rather than rule sets and defines sport ethics in terms of what’s accepted by the community of practitioners. The clock-stopping foul in basketball, on this view, is morally permissible because it’s accepted and even expected within the culture of the game. It’s not clear, however, that acceptance of a practice amounts to moral rectitude. Unwritten rules might also carry moral obligations—as with the soccer custom of kicking the ball out of play when a player is injured. If a player is somehow unaware of this custom, and therefore fails to do it, has she done something immoral?

Morality in sports competition involves more than rule-obedience. The interpersonal nature of competition itself implies certain moral obligations. In Fair Play: Sport, Values, and Society (1991) Robert Simon defines athletic competition as a “mutual quest for excellence” that is ultimately cooperative and therefore carries the obligation to provide a good test for one’s opponent. Violence, defined as the intent to harm or disable one’s opponent, is unethical on this model because it interferes with the cooperative quest for excellence. Aggressive but clean checking in hockey may be part of the game, but preventing a competitor from being able to test his skills is not acceptable. This is a problem for the sport of boxing insofar as its lusory goal—the knock out—just is the violent disabling of ones opponent.

Ethical issues in sport also examine actions in terms of what is good for the sport generally. The use of high-tech equipment, such as hydrodynamic swimsuits, is a good topic for debate. Robert Butcher and Angela Schneider define fair play as “respect for the game,” which they describe in terms of preserving what MacIntyre called the internal goods of a particular sport. Hi-tech equipment may interfere with these goods if, for example, it makes the sport too expensive for many to participate, or if it replaces one of the sport’s important skills with a mechanical advantage. On the other hand, high-tech equipment can be good for the game if it preserves or increases access to internal goods. Many would argue that the advent of the fiberglass vaulting pole made the sport safer and more accessible to athletes of all sizes and genders. Sports ethics does not always cohere with conventional athletic wisdom, but it does apply disciplined ethical thinking to practices which too often view themselves as “beyond” ethical scrutiny.

The Social and Political Functions of Sport

The third big area of philosophical speculation in sport has to do with sport’s social and political functions. Foremost among these is the use of sport in education. Many sport philosophers are also physical educators and the role and purpose of PE is a popular topic. R. Scott Kretchmar’s Practical Philosophy of Sport (1994) promotes a reflective approach to physical education that emphasizes finding meaning in movement. Sport is also discussed as a means of moral education, with special attention paid to its ability to reveal or perhaps cultivate “character.” Heather L. Reid’s The Philosophical Athlete (2002) focuses on what athletes can learn from participating in competitive sport. Finally, sport is discussed as a means of social education—a way of teaching the cooperation and teamwork necessary to succeed in modern society.

Philosophers of sport also debate issues of sport and social access. Sport, like society, has a history of exclusion by class, race, and gender. A hot topic in recent years has been the relationship of women with sport. In the USA a law called Title IX guarantees equal access for males and females to all educational programs—including sport. Educators note that sport helps females to compensate for social discrimination, and there are quantifiable data showing that athletic teenagers are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs. Nevertheless, Title IX preserves sex segregation in sport, which begs the question of whether separate can really be equal (and whether equal is really appropriate) for males and females in sport.

Sport is often discussed in terms of political concepts such as the social contract. Is accepting the rules of a game akin to entering a social contract? The political ideal of justice can be compared to the sport-specific concept of fair play. Principles such as equal opportunity seem to be reflected in sports by common starting lines and level playing fields, but they are also challenged by inequities of natural ability, coaching resources, equipment, and poverty. Sports sometimes compensate for competitive advantages by providing various “handicaps,” but are these always just? Issues of liberty and authority are frequently discussed in issues revolving around personal risk and safety, as well as social control issues, such as the excessive celebration rule in American Football.

Broader cultural issues are also examined in their relationship to sport. Prominent among these are questions about commercialization and commodification. Big-time college sport in the USA seems driven by business interests even while it applies the strictest amateur regulations to its athletes. Does professionalization make sport more work than play? Has sport lost the qualities of autotelicity (i.e. being an end in itself) and gratuitousness (i.e. being unnecessary for survival) that set it off from ordinary life and—at least to the ancient Hellenes—made it noble? William J. Morgan believes that the relationship between sport and culture teaches us as much about society as it does about athletes. In Why Sports Morally Matter (2006) he recounts the damage done to sport by so-called free-market values, illuminating at the same time sport’s potential to cultivate constructive social skills and values that challenge the dominant ideology. On an international level as well, sport has demonstrated its ability to encourage peaceful dialogue among diverse cultures—indeed this is a philosophical foundation of the Olympic Games.

Questions for the Future

By any standard, philosophy of sport must be regarded as a nascent academic field with a vast unexplored frontier. Important texts and ideas from the history of philosophy have been profitably applied to sport and there is still much ground to cover. Non-western philosophy offers many opportunities in this area; Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, is the only major work to date. The analysis of additional ethical and political issues is also ripe for development, particularly as sport plays a larger role in commercial society and international politics. Philosophy, ultimately, is about the desire to know—there is much to know about sport and our journey has just begun.

PhD Opportunity Available

The faculty of Sport, Exercise and Social Care at the University of Gloucestershire is advertising a three year fully funded PhD (£12,000 plus fees) in the Philosophy of Sport and Technology. The studentship is available to research the following questions:
  • To what extent can a meaningful distinction be made between the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ athlete?
  • Does the claim that we have entered a post-human age have any validity and if so, what are the repercussions for elite sport?
  • What are the implications for sport (for instance, the conception of (dis)ability sport) with the development of technology that obscures the line between the organic and inorganic?
It is a fantastic opportunity to secure a funded PhD in Philosophy (which are pretty hard to come by) and I encourage anyone with an interest and experience in this area to apply. The closing date for applications is Friday 23rd May and the date for interviews is Wednesday 4th June.

For more information please contact me and I would be happy to discuss it further.

Emily Ryall
Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Care
University of Gloucestershire

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doping arguments

thanks for your interesting contribution Carl. I'd like to see the reference for the full piece. You cite Miller Brown's wonderful summary of the doping and anti doping arguments and I agree pretty much with his conclusion that thinking through the ideas of athletic excellence will require us also to think about what constitutes human excellence. I have tried to do something a little like this in my latest (and long overdue) book on virtue ethics in sports.

I take a really simple line - beneath the arguments about doping are arguments about sportspershonship and (if you will forgive the crudity that follows) that requires some thinking about personhood. I tried this at my first PSSS conference organised by Bill Morgan when he was at Tennessee (1991 I believe). I had the great good fortune to have the paper responded to by Scott Kretchmar who said a lot of nice things but felt essentially the line I had taken (following Charles Taylor) was too cognitively biased. Being the wise-young PhD student I was back then, I promptly ignored the advice. When I came to revising the paper for the book (last year) I was forced to concede that the ever-modest Professor saw it right all along and that I had to soften up the position and concede that, useful an idea as strong evaluation is (the capacity to choose evaluatively among ends), if we make this the benchmark for all persons, then infants, those in Persistent Vegitative States, severely mentally disabled (among others) don't count - and to lump them in a category of non-persons is just unacceptable.

Nevertheless, there is something in the idea that a full blown ideal of a sportsperson is someone who can stand outside of ego and economic incentives to realise that a fair contest is at the heart of sports. This does not mean that all inequalities can or ought to be wiped away. Sigmund Loland gave a great keynote at the last British Philosophy of Sport Association Conference last week in Denmark (a long story and one for anohter blog) where he reminded us that we are all interested in athletic inequalities so long as they are demonstrated by way of fair opportunity (a line reminiscent of Warren Fraleigh before him).

So the fairness will apply to the contest and certain aspects of the pre-contest (no genetic tests just yet though please). It will be conceded by anyone that certain inequalities are present which it is unreasonable to ask sports institutions to eliminate (your country's level of altitude, your parental genetic stock, and so on) but doping is something we can and ought to take a stand on for a variety of harm and sports-integrity reasons as applied sensitively to the heterogeneity of cases that occur.

I offer in the book a virtue theoretical critique (based in the vices of greed (well, pleonexia in the greek catalogue -a sort of unjust greed not mere gluttony) and the loss of shame (aidos) by those who simply "prepare badly" their pharmacological regime. But these virtue based arguments add to but do not clinch the argument necessarily. I offer further more technical ones in the shape of slippery slopes and a refutation of the ambiguity of doping rules based on arguments from the conceptual vaguess literature.

But a more simple and provocative one comes often to mind. We know that people speed when driving their cars. We know we won't stop (all of) them.
Driving too fast will not always harm others or ourselves.
Yet we think that posting a limit is a posture to settle an ideal - if you drive more than (say) 30mph near a built up area you may end up killing careless pedestrians; if you drive more than say 80mph and have a tyre blow out you may very well kill yourself.

People drive faster than this. Sometimes they do it with reckless disregard to their person, sometimes to other persons.

The rules present a rationally defensible ideal, that it is impossible always to enforce, but which is an ethically justified pursuit nonenetheless. And so it is with sport.

See what you think. Sorry about the egregious plug.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doping and the Double Standard in Professional Sport

People are generally opposed to the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport, and this negative reaction has a number of arguments at its root. For example, critics claim that these drugs affect the purity of the sport, or that they could possibly have unforeseen and negative side-effects on athletes. By far the most prominent claim against performance enhancers is that they give an illegal and undeserved edge to those who use them. I take issue with this view, not necessarily because it is incorrect, but because it masks what I see as a blatant double standard in professional sport. The full version of this argument appears in the latest edition of Think; I would just like to present the main idea here.

I believe that questioning the use of performance enhancers is valuable, as it leads to discussions concerning the legitimacy of rewarding athletes who are using all types of synthetic aids to be better and, ultimately, to win. There are also important ethical questions which occur on the slippery slope between sport in the traditional, amateur, ‘Greek’, understanding of the term, and sport played by super-enhanced, ‘semi-human’, and extremely well-paid athletes. If technology allowed one to alter one’s genes, or to attach robotic arms, legs, etc to become better at a sport (or for that matter, better human beings), should we allow it?

Technological innovations are present in all sports, and at all levels. Companies like Nike, Adidas, Speedo, New Balance and Reebok are constantly striving to manufacture products which give athletes the edge over their opponents. For example, swimmers are now using full-body suits made out of material that minimizes friction with the water. Yes, would come the reply, but how much difference do these suits really make? Well, since it was introduced in February, 19 long-course world swimming records have been set, all but one of those by a swimmer wearing Speedo’s new LZR suit. Coincidence? I think not (see

Spiked athletic shoes are also standard issue today. These shoes have been proved to reduce times by full seconds by virtue of the better grip, and therefore propulsion, that they afford the athlete. Simply put, if you don’t wear them, you are going to lose.
The examples above of swimmers and track athletes are particularly good ones as they both involve sports that have been the traditional bastions of those blowing the anti-doping trumpet the loudest. But isn’t this remarkable, as it seems athletes can use any technology (clothes, shoes, heart-rate monitors etc) to help them beat their opponent, as long as this technology is put on the outside of the body. Yes, comes the immediate response, but when you take performance enhancers, you are not competing. It is some super-you; you are performing way beyond your natural capacity. People who use this line of argument are simply (and conveniently) omitting the impact of new technology. Don’t swimming suits and running spikes do exactly the same thing? Anyone arguing from an “all athletes need equal footing” perspective is going to have to go the whole way and have us all passing the baton barefoot and naked.

This then is the double standard present today in professional sport: we allow technological improvements in equipment, like the Speedo LZR above, to help our athletes, but declare using (some) technological improvements in synthetic stimulants for the same ends illegal. This is not an argument for all types of steroids to be made available whole-sale to the public; I feel that this could well endanger many lives. I suggest as well that the best argument against drugs of this nature will come from the harm they may do our athletes. Some athletes might also want to argue (quite fairly) that they don’t want to risk their lives to compete and win, and that others willingness to do this puts them at a disadvantage. The fact is that many safe performance enhancers are banned alongside those that are dangerous – why not just ban the dangerous ones? I am not offering a complete policy on performance enhancers; I am merely asking us to rethink our intuitive reactions towards performance enhancers.

Contributor Introduction - Carl Thomen

I am currently completing my PhD at the University of Gloucestershire, after meeting my supervisor Emily Ryall through this blog! To the best of my knowledge, I am the only South African actively pursuing a career in Sports Philosophy (if there's anyone else who is, or wants to, please email me!). As I'm sure you know, Apartheid had a devastating effect on South Africa, and 14 years into our new democracy, its repercussions are nowhere more visible than in our sporting structures, where issues concerning quotas and "transformation" make headlines almost every day. This was the subject of my Masters thesis, which I completed last year at UCT under Professor David Benatar.

Apart from the above, I am also interested in performance enhancement (see my next post) and the effects of technology on sport and sportspeople. I also think that there is a good argument for the re-amateurization of (some) sport lurking around somewhere - when I have time, I would like to investigate it. I was a member of the national championship winning Eastern Province field hockey side in 2003, and have coached professionally in England and South Africa. Philosophically, I lean towards Nietzsche, Thoreau, Emerson and Stephen Vizinczey, among others. Otherwise, I am just grateful to get the opportunity to contribute to this forum - thanks Mike.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fairness and Performance-Enhancing Drugs

There is an ongoing debate about the use of performance-enhancing substances such as steroids, human growth hormone, and EPO amid scandals and allegations involving elite athletes such as Barry Bonds, Floyd Landis, and Roger Clemens, among others. One argument often given against the use of performance-enhancing drugs is as follows:

(1) The use of certain performance-enhancing substances constitutes a form of cheating.
(2) Therefore, the use of such substances is fundamentally unfair.
(3) Such unfairness should not be allowed in sport.
(C) The use of certain performance-enhancing substances should not be allowed.

There is some initially plausibility to this argument. It does strike one as unfair that a cyclist might win a race because he used EPO, when his opponents did not. However, as W.M. Brown points out in his "As American as Gatorade and Apple Pie: Performance Drugs and Sports," this argument misses the point in an important way. If we are considering whether or not the bans in professional leagues and international competitions like the Olympic Games should be in place, then arguing that they should be forbidden because they are against the rules is not relevant and begs the question. What is required is a justification for the rules themselves.

Moreover, another problem arises when considering issues related to fairness. There are numerous inequalities that might lead one to conclude unfairness is simply a part of sport. For example, financial resources, quality of equipment, availability of well-funded training centers, excellence of coaching, and so on could create inequalities that directly or indirectly impact athletic performance. The upshot is that we need an argument showing why some inequalities are acceptable, whereas others are not. My own view is that introducing at least some performance-enhancing substances is wrong, though I'll save my reasons for that position for a later post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Philosophy of Sport at the Central APA

The annual meeting of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association is being held this week in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hilton.
The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport is holding a session. I attended this session last year, and it was enjoyable and thought-provoking. For those who live nearby or are already planning to attend, please note the following:

Saturday, April 19, 12:15-2:15 p.m.
International Association for the Philosophy of Sport
12:15-2:15 p.m.
Topic: Philosophy of Sport
Chair: Jeffrey P. Fry (Ball State University)
Speakers: Michael W. Austin (Eastern Kentucky University)
“Magnanimity, Modafinil, and Moral Theory”
Heather Reid (Morningside College)
“Sport as Philosophy”
Nicholas Dixon (Alma College)
“Trash Talking as Irrelevant to Athletic Excellence: Response to Summers”
Jeffrey P. Fry (Ball State University)
“Underdogs, Upsets, and Overachievers”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John Daly discusses Tiger Woods

Here's a great item from The Independent. Is John Daly on to something here? or is his argument merely sour grapes?

Daly would rather drink to Woods' fitness philosophy

By Phil Casey in Stockholm
Thursday, 16 August 2007

The former Open champion John Daly had a vivid and emphatic response yesterday to Tiger Woods' sermon on the benefits of physical fitness in golf.

"Every time I worked out I threw up and I thought to myself, 'I can get drunk and throw up, I don't need to do this!'" was Daly's view of Woods' comments after he won the 13th major of his career in the USPGA Championship on Sunday.

Woods defied the sweltering conditions at Southern Hills and afterwards extolled the virtues of his fitness programme.

"You should always train hard and bust your butt," Woods said following his two-shot victory achieved in temperatures well over 100 degrees. "That's what a sport is. The thing is that not everyone considers golf a sport and they don't treat it as such."

Woods did not name names, but Daly could be considered a prime example of the kind of player he was referring to, a 41-year-old smoker who has battled weight, drink and gambling problems – and gone through three divorces – which have undoubtedly dimmed his huge natural talent. But Daly insists that working out in the gym does not agree with him and has no intention of changing his ways to try to add a third major title to his 1991 USPGA and 1995 Open victories. "I think I did better than most players last week who do work out," he said, third after the opening round at Southern Hills before fading to a share of 32nd. "I saw Vijay [Singh] finding the shade of a tree whenever he could and he looked worn out. I don't think it matters if you work out or if you don't work out, I am used to the heat like that so it doesn't bother me as much as some of the other guys.

"I don't think training or conditioning has anything to do with it. Heat is heat but the fat boys like me, we can get through the heat.

"I tried (working out) when I was at Reebok in the early 1990s but I got tired of it, every time I worked out I threw up and I thought to mysel, "I can get drunk and throw up, I don't need to do this'!

"You throw up after an hour's work out, but you can drink for 20 hours before throwing up, so it is just not for me, I don't like it.

"I am flexible enough, but there are probably some things I could do to keep my flexibility up, but I just don't want to do it.

"I'd rather smoke, drink diet Cokes and eat! It just doesn't mean that much to me to work out, lift weights and run. I get enough exercise walking five or six miles a day."

Contributor Introduction--Jim Tantillo

I am a lecturer in environmental philosophy and environmental history in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. When asked by Mike Austin to describe my interest in the philosophy of sport, I replied that mine is something more than a passing interest, although perhaps not yet a full-blown academic specialty. So I've read Suits, Callois, Weiss, Novak, for example, as well as Pieper, Huizinga, Kerr etc on play and leisure, but I'm eager to learn more.

I am particularly interested in connections between theology and play--the Catholic liturgy, for example, has been called "wasting time for God's sake." Also connections between scholarship and leisure, as these relate to play/game/sport; and leisure and play as objective goods necessary in ethics for human flourishing.

Most specifically I remain fascinated by the question I entertained some years ago in my dissertation on the philosophy and ethics of hunting: is hunting a sport? and if so why? So I guess I'm also interested in the semantics of the term, sport, because many critics of the term believe "sport" is a trivial or unimportant matter, whereas theologians/ethicists might argue that play/sport is what is most important for the good life.

"Anyway," I added, "The main reason [for joining the blog] is I think it would be fun. [Here I stuck a smiley face in my email.] That's my real justification and I'm sticking to it."

I'm very glad to be participating in this blog and am looking forward to some terrific discussions.

Contributor Introduction- Scott Kretchmar

I finally figured out how to get on this website. That does not bode well for my competence . . . either as a person in general or a sport philosopher. But I was told that I was welcome even as an incompetent.

I've been involveded in sport philosophy since the beginning of time. I'm excited that a number of younger individuals have come aboard. There is still so much still to be analyzed and discovered.

Scott Kretchmar
Professor, Penn State

Monday, April 14, 2008

Philosophy of Sport: A Short Introduction Part 1: History & Metaphysics


Some time during the 5th Century BCE, just outside of the Corinth on Greece’s Peloponnese, a budding young philosopher named Plato competed in wrestling at the Isthmian Games. Ancient Greece is recognized in the West as the birthplace of both philosophy and Olympic-style sport, and Plato may have been the first philosophical athlete. In the East, philosophy and martial arts have an equally ancient—though less-explored—connection. As a discrete academic field, however, Philosophy of Sport didn’t really take hold until 1969 when Paul Weiss of Yale University published Sport: A Philosophic Inquiry. Weiss was neither an expert nor a practitioner of sport, but his prominence as a philosopher caused the philosophical world at last to take a serious look at sport. Soon the Philosophical Society for the Study of Sport (now known as IAPS, the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport) was formed. The Journal of the Philosophy of Sport was launched in 1974, and a variety of books and anthologies on the subject were published in its wake. Growth in the field has accelerated in recent years with increasing interest and contributions from scholars beyond North America and Europe.


Socrates liked to begin his philosophical investigations with a “what is” question. To explore the question “What is sport?” however, many philosophers looked back to Johan Huizinga’s 1950 Homo Ludens, an analysis of the nature of play. Huizinga claimed that play is not just prior to sport, but also to culture and civilization. He further characterized play as not serious, not necessary (i.e. for survival), and separate from ordinary life. In 1978, Amherst historian Allen Guttmann tried to define modern sport as an intersection between Huizinga’s non-serious play and the very serious contests found among ancient Greeks. He described sports as “non-utilitarian contests which include an important measure of physical as well as intellectual skill” (From Ritual to Record, 7). Guttmann also identified several distinctive qualities of modern sport such as secularism, equality of opportunity, specialization, rationalization, bureaucratic organization, quantification, the quest for records.

It was Bernard Suits’ playful dialogue The Grasshopper, however, that laid a serious foundation for sport metaphysics. Suits defined a game as the “voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles,” and noted as its necessary components (1) a “prelusory goal” also known as the “object of the game”; (2) constitutive rules which forbid the most efficient means toward the goal; and (3) a “lusory attitude,” that is the players’ conscious acceptance of rules which makes the game possible. In the game of basketball, then, the prelusory goal is to score points by putting the ball into the basket, the constitutive rules prohibit such useful means as ladders and running without bouncing the ball, and the lusory attitude is what makes the players see this activity as a game. Over the years, Suits’ definitions have been explored, refined, and applied directly to sport. In 2005 The Grasshopper was reissued as a sport philosophy classic.

Of course, sport is more than the games themselves, it also involves athletes, and traditional philosophical arguments about mind and body have been deftly applied to sport. In his 1990 book Philosophy of Sport, Drew Hyland considered the three positions of dualism, physicalism, and phenomenology. Although dualism has been the dominant view in Western philosophy, sports enthusiasts resisted its tendency to privilege mind over body and thereby to denigrate sport. Physicalism had more surface appeal, but tended to view the human being as a machine. Phenomenology, which focuses on the experience of the lived body, was Hyland’s preferred approach to the question for athletes. Now the view of a person as both mind and body, dubbed “holism” is the most popular metaphysical theory in the philosophy of sport.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Contributor Introduction - Jesús Ilundáin Agurruza

Mens sana in corpore sano. Whoever came up with this line was an advertising genius or someone with sadistic leanings (or both).  I fell for it the moment I read it in a fifth grade book, that is, before my woefully inadequate rational side had a fair chance to critically assess it, discard it, and set me onto the sedate pleasures of a sedentary and philistine lifestyle. Which leads me to where I am today: instead of enjoying and reaping the benefits of a healthy and sound mind and body working harmoniously, as the dictum promised, I find myself split in body and mind, pulled between the lure of the sporting life and the siren song of wisdom (whether western or eastern depending on the direction of the wind). But in a twisted and Sisyphean way, I would not have it any other way.   Accordingly, I am currently an assistant professor of philosophy at Linfield College (nestled in a tidy pocket of the American Northwest) who "meditates" spinning on the hilly roads in the area.   My professional interests center on the philosophies  of sport, literature, and art and aesthetics (brewed all together for best results). If pushed I will confess a certain "professional deformation" for metaphysical issues in those areas, but truly all philosophical types of inquiry are fair game.  Teaching is another professional facet to which I am addicted in the best and worst senses of the word. When "off duty" I enjoy bicycle racing (seriously so), a pursuit I share with my "way-tougher-than-I-am" wife, Irene.  I am looking forward to sharing some of the musings that Sophia may inspire me with as I think or ride in this great race that life is.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Contributor Introduction - Emily Ryall

I am a senior lecturer in Philosophy in the Sport, Health and Social Care faculty of the University of Gloucestershire, UK. My interest in the Philosophy of Sport came about accidentally. Although I have always been involved in sport from a playing perspective, my background is in Philosophy and Linguistics. Nevertheless, I was fortunate enough to secure a funded PhD in Philosophy in a sports department, which opened up a whole new field of research that, as an undergraduate in Philosophy, I never even knew existed. My hope is, as the study of sport gains greater credibility (as it is still a fairly young academic subject) to see courses on the Philosophy of Sport becoming as common on undergraduate philosophy curricula, as those on the Philosophy of Religion, Aesthetics, or the Philosophy of Science.
My current research is primarily focused upon the effect that technology will have on the concept of the human athlete and its implications for sport (we have a funded PhD coming up on this which will be advertised shortly), although I tend to dabble in lots of different areas.
The rest of my life still revolves around playing sport and keeping as active as possible (I recently took up skateboarding and gymnastics!) and I hope to continue for as long as my body allows.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Contributor Introduction - Milan Hosta

I am an associate professor for the philosophy of sport at Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Due to lack of teaching hours, we are in the stage of curricula changes, I have devoted some of my recent time to development of practical guides for coaches and PE teachers in order to address fair play, discrimination and violence in sport Beside sport ethics, I found main interests in radical social ecology and dynamics of social changes, symbolic and social power of sport, and game theory. As an asthmatic, I teach buteyko breathing therapies as well, which brings me to the core principles of life habits i.e. breathing and eating. Through intensive observation of these bodily functions, the interest for spirituality spontaneously arises.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Contributor Introduction -- Douglas Hochstetler

I am Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University, Lehigh Valley. My primary teaching assignments are Sport Philosophy and Ethics, as well as Sport History. Prior to coming to Penn State, I spent 7 years teaching Physical Education and coaching at the collegiate level, and 3 years teaching grades K-8 Physical Education & Health. My research areas of interest include sport ethics, meaning in physical activity, and the history of intercollegiate football.

Contributor Introduction- Mike Austin

I'm an associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky (U.S.A.). My interests in philosophy of sport focus on moral philosophy and sport and issues related to children and sport. I've also edited a book with Blackwell aimed at a more popular audience, Running and Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind.

I'm looking forward to being a part of an international dialogue that includes scholars from a variety of disciplines, students, athletes, and anyone else who happens across this blog.

Introducing the Philosophy of Sport Blog

This multi-authored blog is intended to be an international forum for the discussion of issues related to the philosophical dimensions of sport, as well as a place to disseminate calls for papers, publication and conference announcements, and issues related to teaching in this area of philosophy.

There are many reasons to think that sport is a fitting and important topic for philosophic inquiry which will surface on this blog as the discussion progresses. For now, consider what William Morgan points out in his book Why Sports Morally Matter. Morgan argues that sports deserve to be taken seriously, in part because it is through arguing about sports that many people first learn to generalize, form arguments, and respond to counterarguments. Moreover, debates about economics, gender, race, patriotism, justice, and drugs arise in the context of philosophical discussions of sport, and we can often glean new insights into these issues as they are discussed within this particular context.

I would add that as we think seriously about the philosophy of sport, we end up having to think seriously about metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. To my knowledge, no blog exists for the purpose of discussing philosophy of sport, and my hope is that this blog will be a forum for such discussion among philosophers, students, athletes, and anyone else who is simply interested in these issues.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Coming Soon...

A blog with multiple contributors, all working on issues in the philosophy of sport.